Within the past six years, the Division of Information Technology has developed an IT Internship Program at Montclair State University — a great new way to give students real-life work experience in IT.

This innovative program had its start in 2008 when IT began to notice a trend with current student employees leaving their positions as student assistants and working for companies off campus. With the support of then University Help Desk Manager, Summer R. Jones, the IT Internship Program began offering students a chance to work in IT for credit.

The division introduced its first two students to the IT Internship Program in summer 2008. As the program criteria had not been fully developed, it was decided that IT would allow the student interns to work on projects that were worthwhile but abandoned due to time constraints with the full time staff. That summer, the students worked independently creating and implementing a formalized Remote Desktop program and our first iteration of a “desktop lockdown”.
“Working for the Division of Information Technology allowed me to combine various skills from previous work experience with knowledge from the Information Technology curriculum in an environment that was academic friendly and business savvy”

— Daniel Stratthaus

In fall 2008, the IT Internship Program was opened to all eligible MSU students. Over the course of the last six years, the program has averaged two to three interns per year with several of those students going on to work as full time professionals within the distributed technology groups at MSU.

The IT Internship Program is part of a larger framework within the university. The program works directly with the Cooperative Education Program (CO-OP), which allows students to exchange supervised work experience for college credit. The Cooperative Education Program gives students skills that they can utilize in the future. In addition to receiving direct referrals from faculty advisors and Gennae Hinson, Director for Career Services within the College of Science and Mathematics, the IT Internship Program recruits through its listing as an employer in the CO-OP program.

In recruiting for the program, the desirable qualities are initiative, independence and aptitude to learn, since technical skillsets can vary from person to person. The internship is a platform for learning, so having those characteristics are key to completing the internship successfully. Each intern is matched with a full time staff member according to the intern’s skillset and assigned project. This staff member serves as the intern’s supervisor to guide the intern to the correct resources in order to complete his or her tasks.

Each student intern is treated as a hybrid of student and employee. They are given a work-space separate than the student area. In addition, they are able to work 40 hours versus the 20 hour limit that MSU imposes on its student employees. The interns must present their projects to the supervising managers, directors and the Vice President of Information Technology. However, there is also an academic component of the internship program. To receive credit, all interns must submit a learning agreement for approval to their Faculty advisor. They must also complete both a mid-semester and final evaluation, and a site visit from their faculty advisors. Interns are evaluated by their CO-OP advisors, faculty advisor, and direct supervisors in IT.
For many graduating seniors MSU was a logical path to career development. Jeff Giacobbe, Associate Vice President for Enterprise Technology Services and Minto Gill, Director of Networking and Telecommunications, chose to work in their alma mater upon graduation along with countless other MSU technical staff.
Daniel Stratthaus, Summer Jones, Matthew Cannizzaro

Daniel Stratthaus, Summer Jones, Matthew Cannizzaro

Montclair State University’s IT Internship Program provides practical work experience, helps develop project management skills, presentation skills and exposes the intern to a real world work environment. This exposure is invaluable in today’s society for developing marketable employees.

The program provided a real benefit to IT as it has enabled interns to work on projects that might have been placed on hold. It gave full time staff direct supervision over the interns to increase their soft skills and produced policies and applications that are still being used today.
Some of these major endeavors are the IT Services Status page, the Computer Lab Availability Tool and our campus-wide 24×7 Virtual Computing Lab.